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Nicola Roxon, the Feminazi Gillard Government Attorney General resigned last week after a concerted effort had been made by defenders of free speech to get her to change proposed legislation that would have rendered anyone ‘guilty until proven innocent’ if ‘Insulting’ someone. Not just anyone, of course. Just the favoured ‘victim’ groups.
She refused point blank to defend her legislation. She resigned instead.
But a few have noted, despite all the outrage, that no-one seemed to want to defend such draconian ‘orders’ from ‘above’.
What is the situation in the UK?
For some years … commentators including James Allan and Janet Albrechtsen have attacked existing state and federal laws that make publications unlawful on the basis of notions such as insult, ridicule or offensiveness. I have written a number of pieces myself on the problem of these concepts in legislation.
But where is the response from those in favour of these laws? There hasn’t been one. Yet we know that there is no shortage of persons in influential positions who do favour these kinds of laws. The fact that there is such legislation on the statute books at the federal level and in most states and territories indicates that they were pushed through the parliamentary process by powerful lobby groups.
It is a measure of the muted discussion in Australia of so many political questions that proponents of these laws feel they do not have to answer any criticisms of them. Partly, of course, this comes from the sense of moral certainty held by many groups that are confidently prepared to decide what is best for the community. But there is also the quasi-religious belief in some quarters that any opponents are intrinsically evil and do not deserve a response.
Amid this deafening silence from the supporters of the legislation, there has also been an absence of comment from a range of groups that are generally outspoken on questions of individual freedom. Where, for example, are the protests from legal professional bodies such as bar associations and law societies or from the various civil liberties organisations?…
The American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said the “best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market”. The report quoted this statement but only to reject it. This was because, according to the report, most members of the community do not have “the capacity to engage in debate, in the form of the relevant critical reasoning and speaking skills”.
This wildly elitist view that media content has to be regulated because most people are incapable of sifting or evaluating newspaper articles or radio and television broadcasts naturally provoked some hoots of derision. But, again, there was no real response to any of the criticisms of the report from those involved in putting it together or from anyone else. After this rare glimpse into the world of those who do not place a high value on freedom of speech, normal silence was resumed.
After Craig Thomson MP was charged with more than 100 fraud offences, Trade Minister Craig Emerson declared Thomson was entitled to the presumption of innocence. Emerson repeated what most people assume to be true, namely that in Australia you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty…
The problem with claiming someone is innocent until proven guilty is that the statement isn’t accurate. It all depends. There are dozens of Commonwealth and state laws declaring people guilty first which then require them to establish their innocence…
The Gillard government’s draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill unveiled at the end of last year proposes that an employer accused, for example, of racial discrimination should be presumed to be guilty. A few days before her resignation as attorney-general, Nicola Roxon announced she had backed down on that part of the bill which would have made it illegal to insult or offend someone. However, the sections of the bill which require those charged with discrimination to establish they’re not guilty remain.